11 Amazing Places to Visit in Spain that No One Told You About

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When you think of Spain, your mind probably either goes to Barcelona or Madrid. Those are your typical tourist sites, and I’m not going to lie: they’re both pretty amazing. However, some of the best hidden places to visit in Spain are in some ways better than what is most popular!

If you’re looking for offbeat places to visit in Spain, then you’ll love the list below. Whether you’re heading to the wild and lush north or the sun-kissed south, Spain has plenty to offer. Check out some of these wonderful and largely unknown places to visit in Spain!

1. Cabo de Gata Nature Preserve

Vast, untouched land, crystal-clear Mediterranean waters, and long, sandy beaches: that is what awaits you in the nature preserve of Cabo de Gata in southern Spain. The coastline along the nature preserve is full of hidden coves and calm waters, with a backdrop of sand dunes and arid desert landscape. This area is great for relaxation or adventure.

Cabo de Gata, via Pep Peret on Flickr

Photo of Cabo De Gata, Almería, Spain by Amy Copadis

What to See/Do

- Playa de Los Muertos: This secluded beach located just outside of the town of Carboneras involves a 30 minute hike down a steep trail, and is great for a relaxing day by the sea.

- Horseback Rides: Local stables offer horseback rides through the fascinating terrain and along the beautiful beaches in the area.

- Kayak or Snorkel: If you’re ready for an adventure on the water, check out some of the local guides that offer beautiful kayak rides and snorkeling.

Where to Eat

- Carboneras: If you’re looking for good tapas in a lovely atmosphere, head to the seaside town of Carboneras. Follow the boardwalk parallel to the sea and you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy food and drink while listening to the Mediterranean’s waves rolling on the shore.

2. Cedeira

One of the best hidden places to visit in Spain, this beautiful and lush seaside town of the northern province of Galicia is reminiscent of the vast green landscape of Ireland. This area is full of beautiful culture, delicious seafood, and friendly people.

What to See/Do

- Walking: Wandering the vast and beautiful terrain of this area is one of the best ways to see it. Take a walk through the lush green forests or alongside the raging northern seas.

- The Cliffs of Acantilados: Among the highest cliffs in Europe, the Acantilados cliffs are immersed in a forest of Eucalyptus trees, and overlook the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

Where to Eat

- Cedeira is full of beautiful tapas bars and lovely seafood restaurants. You’ll have to try some of the local dishes at places such as the Taberna Praza do Peixe.

3. Granada

History, architecture, shopping, food: this typical Andalusian city has everything you could possibly want or need! Roam these beautiful streets for ancient delights and modern marvels.

The Alhambra Palace, Granada via Pep Peret on Flickr

Photo of Granada, Spain by Amy Copadis

What to See/Do

- The Alhambra: Known as the last stand of the Moorish empire, this beautiful palace was once home to royalty. The buildings and the gardens have all been beautifully preserved.

- Albaicyn: This neighborhood sits on a hill adjacent to the Alhambra palace, and has a distinctly Arabic feel to it. Wandering through the Arabic markets, you may forget that you’re still in Europe!

Where to Eat

- Almost any place that is tucked into a small alleyway. Avoid places on the main streets that seem to cater to tourists, as they are less authentic.

- To go back to Granada’s roots, head to Om Kalsoum on Calle Jardines to try typical North African foods.

4. Cuenca

Due to the abundance of history contained in this walled city, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It was originally built by the Moors, but was conquered in the 12th century and has earned a reputation for historic buildings and abstract art.

What to See/Do

- Cathedral Nuestra Señora de Gracia: Originally built in the 1100’s over the site of the mosque which once stood here, this cathedral has been well preserved in the Neo-Gothic style.

- Spanish Abstract Art Museum: Displayed throughout the fascinating hanging houses that stand clinging to the sides of steep hills, you can find some of Spain’s most lovely abstract art pieces.

Where to Eat

- Try a menú del día at El Bodegón, or some typical tapas at La Bodeguilla de Basilio.

5. Tabernas

Did you know that there’s a desert in Spain? I didn’t until I came to visit Tabernas in the south. This incredible place looks like something out of an old west movie, which is probably due to the fact that many westerns were filmed here!

Tabernas Desert via Anna Fuster on Flickr

Photo of Tabernas, Almería, Spain by Amy Copadis

What to See/Do

- Mini Hollywood: If you’re visiting with kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, don’t miss out on this fantastic theme park! You’ll see the old west town, complete with cowboys, and be able to enjoy the water park for when the weather gets too hot.

- Castle of Tabernas: Although not very well preserved, this castle is as authentic as it gets. You’ll also be able to see views of the desert below and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.

Where to Eat

- Tapas are in full swing in this lovely town. Check out places like Las Eras de Manolo, or Los Albardinales for some typical southern Spanish food.

6. San Sebastian

Located in the heart of Basque Country in the north, this gorgeous coastal town is locked between the lush, green mountains and the sea. If you’re looking for museums, beaches, culture, or Michelin star restaurants, you have it all here.

What to See/Do

- Playa de la Concha: If you’re looking for a place in summer to relax and party, this city beach is all you’ll ever need! Stunning views and cool waters await you here.

- San Telmo Museoa: This rather new museum holds a uniquely historic feel. While gazing on the artwork inside, you will surely be drawn to the culture of the Basque Country.

Where to Eat

- San Sebastian is ranked second in the world for most Michelin-starred restaurants per square meter. Check out Arzak, Kokotxa, or Akelaŕe for haute cuisine in San Sebastian.

7. Ronda

Known for stunning cliffs and towering bridges, Ronda is home to some beautiful history and death-defying views.

Ronda, Spain

Photo of Ronda, Spain by Amy Copadis

What to See/Do

- The Bridges: The New Bridge, the Old Bridge, and the Roman Bridge all show the incredible history of the town of Ronda. Each crosses the Tajo, the large ravine that splits Ronda in two, at different levels. Start at the top with the New Bridge, and make your way down to the ancient Roman bridge that traverses the small river at the bottom of the ravine.

- The Moorish Palace and the Mine: The beautifully sculpted gardens of the palace will greet you upon entry, but serve as the top of a deep cavern inside the cliff. Walk down over 200 steps to reach the bottom of the Tajo, getting into the depths of the ancient mine which was once the only water supply for the city, and giving you an incredible view of the ravine from below.

Where to Eat

- Tropicana: Featuring typical Spanish foods with a modern flare, this small restaurant makes you feel at home.

- Casa Maria: Let your server know if you like fish, meat, or veggies, and the chef will do the rest! You’ll love the surprises that come out of the kitchen here.

8. Burgos

Home to unique Gothic architecture and religious artifacts, this ancient town is one of the best offbeat places to visit in Spain for history lovers.

What to See/Do

- The Cathedral: The Cathedral of Burgos is a Gothic masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The building spares no extravagance, and features Gothic spires, mural-covered ceilings, medieval tombs, and more!

- Castle of Burgos: In the midst of a beautiful park, this castle stands as a witness to the ancient history of Spain, dating back to the 9th century. Check out the castle’s museum to see its violent history, and don’t forget to enjoy the views of the city below.

Where to Eat

- El 24 de la Paloma: Near to the Cathedral, you’ll find this treasure of Castillian cuisine.

- El Fogon de Jesuson: Typical foods served with style can be found in this lovely restaurant.

9. Girona

Full of museums, religious monuments, and ancient history, Girona is a wonderful tribute to Catalonia and its people.

What to See/Do

- Museums: Girona is home to a tragic and beautiful history, as shown out in its museums. See the Museu d’Historia dels Jueus for an overview of the Jewish community that once inhabited this town, or the Museu d’Historia de Girona set in 18th century cloisters to see the city from its Roman times until now. There is also an art museum with over 8500 pieces, and a Cinema Museum.

- Banys Arabs: These Arabic bathhouses are a lovely testament to the early Muslim influence on Spain, and a great place to relax.

Where to Eat

- There are two restaurants with Michelin stars here, El Celler de Can Roca, and Massana.

- Another local favorite is Divinum, full of delicious Catalan cuisine and local wines.

10. Alpujarras

This mountain range in the south is home to white-washed villages soaking up the ever-present sun. They offer wonderful places to unwind, relax, and get in touch with nature.

What to See/Do

- Trevelez: This town is the highest village in Spain, standing at 1,476 meters above sea level. Here you’ll find friendly villagers, quaint guesthouses, and delicious jamón serrano (typical cured ham).

- Pampaneira: This town is full of artisan shops and local crafts, along with an absolutely lovely chocolate factory!

- Hiking: Trails around the Alpujarras offer you incredible sites, wandering through olive groves and almond blossoms and seeing the Mediterranean shimmering in the distance.

Where to Eat

- Bodega Asador El Lagar in Pampaneira offers good food and friendly characters.

- For typical foods of the Alpujarras, head to Piedra Ventana in Trevelez, featuring lovely views during your meal.

11. Tenerife, Canary Islands

Wandering away from the mainland, there are still other offbeat places to visit in Spain. Tenerife, a volcanic island off the coast of West Africa, is a lesser known place full of wonderful experiences.

What to See/Do

- El Teide: The tallest mountain in Spain is also a dormant volcano. The area is full of volcanic wasteland and incredible views of the island and the ocean beyond. From the top, you can actually view many of the other Canary Islands like shadows in the distance.

- Santa Cruz de Tenerife: This metropolitan capital of the island is full of modern wonders, and its ancient counterpart La Laguna holds much of the history of the island.

- Cliffs of Los Gigantes: The Giants are well named, as they stand towering over a small town on the western coast of the island. Watch in awe as the waves of the Atlantic crash against these monstrous cliffs.

Where to Eat

- For a Michelin star restaurant in a fantastic setting, head to El Rincon de Juan Carlos, in the town of Los Gigantes.

- For a fusion of Mediterranean and Canarian cuisine, try Los Roques in the typical town of Los Abrigos.

Conclusion

Spain is certainly full of wonders. The best hidden places to visit in Spain will provide you with some incredible experiences to treasure for a lifetime.

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